PLANO -â" Jason Terry said his point guard skills were in such shambles that it took some top-notch tutelage from Don Nelson and Avery Johnson to get him pointed in the right direction.
After the Mavs failed to re-sign free agent point guard Steve Nash in the summer of 2004, they acquired Terry in a trade from the Atlanta Hawks on Aug. 4, 2004. But Terry had never been to the playoffs in his five seasons with the Hawks, so his NBA game needed some polishing.
âGoing from Atlanta to Dallas I hadnât won (in the NBA), and I didnât know what winning was,ââ Terry told the Star-Telegram on Monday. âAll I knew was that I worked on my game.
âHow do I implement that into a winning organization? I knew how to go out and get numbers and play, but when I got to Dallas I learned how to play the game.ââ
Nelson coached Terry for 64 games of the 2004-â05 Â season before he stepped down in favor of
Johnson, who coached Terry for the last 18 games of the â04-â05 season through the 2007-â08 campaign. The lessons Terry learned from Nelson and Johnson were invaluable.
âI give a lot of credit to Don Nelson and Avery Johnson,ââ Terry said. âThey taught me how to play the point guard position and how to be an all-around basketball player.
âThat growth and that maturation was my time in Dallas, and so what I did is I became a winner and I became a champion in Dallas. So now as a champion Iâll going to another championship organization and that transition will be a lot smoother.ââ
Terry was the starting point guard when the Mavs advanced to the 2006 NBA Finals. And he was a key substitute off the bench when the Mavs captured their only NBA title in 2011.
But when the NBAâs new collective bargaining agreement severelyÂ hampered the Mavsâ chances at re-signing Terry, he inked a three-year, $15 million contract with the Boston Celtics last month. And now heâll get an opportunity to pick up some pointers from Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
âIâve still got things to learn,ââ Terry said. âEven at 34 I feel like going into their program Iâm going
to learn some more stuff.
âThatâs why Iâm open-minded. Iâm going in there mouth shut, eyes wide open.ââ
-- Dwain Price
Follow me on Twitter